At about the same time as the anniversary of the Titanic sinking in April this year, I came across a book called ‘Voices of the Titanic’ in a second hand bookshop. Its topicality was not the only reason that I picked it up, but rather its promise on the back of wanting to tell a story that had not been told before. Having read the book, I wanted to express my thoughts on what it meant to have been allowed to take a personal tour into this piece of history.
Now I immediately thought, like probably you are doing now, that the story of the Titanic must be one of the most well known if not infamous stories of its time. This book however reads like a journal stuck in the past, with its entries from the ship’s various travellers, building up a picture of the human side to the story.
And essentially that’s what the Titanic was about. forget the fact of why the ship sank, those who made the decisions about the ships speed, design and concept. The Titanic story is about those who were aboard – whether it be those dripping in diamonds or those in third class hoping for a new life. They were all human, all people with similar hopes and dreams of going to America on the most amazing ship of its time. Devastation following the sinking affected all equally irrespective of money or background.
The port of Southampton and the site where it sank are not the real places associated with this story. The many birth places of the travellers are the real locations of ‘Voice of the Titanic’. Told in each single voice of those who travelled, the stories within are both from those from survived and perhaps most poignantly those who didn’t. The latter were taken from postcards and letters sent out to loved ones from the ship or before they sailed.
These stories are made all the more treasured as they are from the people who were there and for whom the Titanic’s fate was not just a big news story but a part of their story. And I feel that they were talking directly to me. And sometimes I felt really sad but on the whole the book was an amazing account of some remarkable and unforgettable people. Turns out the story of the Titanic is not about a ship at all.